ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Why Are 2012 & 2013 The Best Years For Seeing Northern Lights?

Updated on July 31, 2012

On this page we are going to take a look at why 2012 and 2013 are predicted to be the best years for seeing the Northern Lights. We will explain why your chances of seeing the Aurora Borealis are significantly higher in these years and also tell you how to enhance your chances of seeing the famed Northern Lights. For everything Aurora related this page should be your one stop guide.

The Northern Lights truly are one of natures greatest wonders. This stunning light show lights up the skies high in the Northern Hemisphere on a regular basis. The lights which are caused by solar particles entering out atmosphere are something that everyone should get the chance to witness at least once in their lifetime. Many of us however are not located in an area where this is possible, so obviously if we want to see the Aurora we have to travel north. The only problem here though is that you are still not guaranteed to see the Aurora Borealis, you need good timing and a little bit of luck. Scientists are predicting that 2012 and 2013 will be the best years we have had for Aurora activity for over fifty years, so why is this?

Solar Cycle

The Northern Lights Cycle Hits It's Peak

Most people assume that the Northern Lights just happen randomly, that there is no way to predict when they will be at their brightest. This however is not the case. The Aurora runs on an eleven year cycle also known as the solar cycle. To understand this you need to realise that the Northern Lights you see here on earth are a result of what is happening with the sun. Solar flares which eject massive amounts of particles into space drift towards the earth on the solar wind. When these collide with our atmosphere they start to glow, hence giving us the Northern and Southern Lights.

When we see a sunspot appear on the sun, this is an indication that particles are being thrown out into space towards the earth. The amount of sunspots we see runs on this eleven year cycle. Some years there are very few sunspots hence very little Aurora activity, when the cycle reaches a peaks however, there are far more sunspots ejecting far more particles, which in turn results in a much higher level of activity from the Northern Lights.

The fact that we can predict this in advance is great news for those of us who want to go in search of the Aurora. The solar cycle is due for a peak over the years of 2012 and 2013. Hence this means the chances of seeing the Aurora will be greatly enhanced and the brightness of the lights will also be increased.

The Northern Lights

Predicting The Aurora Short Term

As well as long term cycles you can also predict the Aurora a few days in advance. This is now quite an accurate science and there are sites out there that can give you an actual Aurora Forecast a few days in advance. These forecasts are put together by simply studying the activity of our sun. When a large sunspot appears and possibly even creates a solar storm, then the level of activity in a few days time will be far greater.

When predicting the Aurora scientists use a scale that runs from 0KP to 9KP. When the Aurora is predicted at 0KP then there is no point even bothering to look up as you will see nothing, however, as the level increases this means the lights will be brighter and you will be able to see them from further south. When the KP level reaches 7 this is known as storm level and then the lights are going to be very spectacular and bright. Over the years of 2012 and 2013 we are expecting ‘storm level’ Auroras to take place on quite a regular basis. When this happens you can view the Northern Lights as far south as places like Scotland, America and even France. Being able to predict the Aurora a few days in advance is a great tool if you are searching for this elusive phenomenon.

The Aurora In Full Flow

The Best Times To See The Northern Lights

So now you understand the solar cycle and know that you can predict the Aurora a few days in advance, when exactly should you be heading north and looking skywards? Well obviously you need darkness to be able to view the lights, so you want to be heading north in the winter time, ideally between October and March. Although the Aurora does run all year round, when you are high in the Northern Hemisphere the hours of darkness are significantly reduced in the summer.

The best times for viewing the Aurora are said to be between 10pm and 2am, although there is no hard and fast rule about this. As long as it is dark you can see the lights at anytime of the day or night. Another thing to think about is moonlight. If you are out on a night when there is a bright full moon, this will decrease your chances of viewing the Aurora. Ideally you want to be out when the moon is not at it’s brightest.

As you can see there are lots of things to take into consideration when planning a trip to view the Northern Lights. As stated earlier 2012 and 2013 are going to be the best years for a long time when it comes to viewing the Aurora both in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. In the north places such as Canada, Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Lapland and Greenland all stand an excellent chances of some dazzling displays. Even in the Southern Hemisphere the lights will at times be visible from New Zealand and Australia. When the KP level is high you should be able to see displays on the horizon from countries such as Scotland. If you have dreamed of seeing the Northern Lights then take advantage of this eleven year cycle and get out there and witness nature’s most spectacular light show.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)